Iran

Number of underage Executions since 1990
Of the United Nations member nations that still practice the death penalty, Iran is perhaps the most prolific. While violent crimes such as rape and murder can lead to the death penalty, Iran also applies the practice to drug offenders, homosexuals, and even juveniles. In fact, Iran has the highest juvenile execution rate of any country employing the death penalty, despite the fact that Iran signed o­nto the Convention o­n the Rights of the Child, a UN document that expressly forbids the use of the death penalty o­n those under the age of eighteen. In 2008 the government of Iran stated that, under most circumstances, execution would no longer be used in regards to juveniles. This does not mean, however, that Iran abolished the death penalty for minors; indeed, certain conditions can still lead to minors being sentenced to death.

Executions in Iran are carried out in a number of ways, including hanging, stoning, and death by firing squad. Of these methods hanging is most often used and public hangings are not uncommon. Stoning is based upon the Islamic principle of rajm (Arabic for "stone") and entails projecting stones at an individuals upper-body until that person is declared dead. The firing squad, while rare, is still used in some executions.

Iran draws the ire of the international community for its perceived liberal use of the death penalty. Homosexuality, for instance, is punishable by death in Iran, making it o­ne of the few countries in the world where such a severe penalty is enforced. Iran believes its use of the death penalty is well within Islamic law and helps to deter would-be criminals. However, with non-violent crimes such as drug use and apostasy bringing possible execution, many in the global community question the effectiveness of such measures.